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I Found It on the Internet Teaching Students to Locate, Evaluate, and Cite Credible Online Sources Dennis G. Jerz Monday, Jan. 28, 2002 www.uwec.edu/jerzdg Illustration: The Internet Procrastinating Student The Internet at 4am Michelangelo’s “The Creation of Adam”, Sistine Chapel http://www.kfki.hu/~arthp/art/m/michelan/3sistina/1genesis/6adam/06_3ce6a.jpg Some instructors feel this way instead… SEE! It Came from Factual errors and commercial plugs… the Internet! Garish colors and blinking text… Anonymous, undated, biased claims… HEAR! Cheesy background music… An infinite number of monkeys at their keyboards… WATCH! The destruction of objectivity, reflection, and independent thought. WRITHE! As all that is true and accurate falls before all that is searchable and downloadable. Adapted from It Came from Outer Space , Universal Pictures (Overview) Teaching students to… Locate Evaluate Cite Credible Online Sources What is an online source? • www.time.com ? • www.amazon.com -- online chapter of a McIntyre book? • A Personal Website – …with a long passage pasted from a news story? – …with an original, eyewitness account of a recent event? • A government document found at the Library of Congress website? • An academic article accessed via the McIntyre Library website? Locating Online Sources • www.google.com • www.uwec.edu/Library/researchmap.html • www.uwec.edu/Library/resources.html – Encyclopedia Britannica – Oxford English Dictionary • www.uwec.edu/Library/Guides/subject.html • www.uwec.edu/Library/coremore • www.firstmonday.org • www.gamestudies.org Evaluating Online Sources • www.uwec.edu/jerzdg/orr/articles/research/ • www.uwec.edu/Library/Guides/tencs.html Citing Online Sources • www.uwec.edu/Library/Guides/citation.html • www.mla.org • MLA BibBuilder www.uwec.edu/jerzdg/orr/articles/research/bib/ • APA Style www.apastyle.org/elecref.html – “Direct readers as closely as possible to the information being cited; whenever possible, reference specific documents rather than home or menu pages.” – “Provide addresses that work.” Problems Finding URLs? • www.usatoday.com • www.leadertelegram.com/local_news1.htm • www.mla.org • www.mla.org/www_mla_org/style/style_main.asp?level=2&m ode=page&page=1&link=sty72800121438§ion=sty51800 124510 • www.uwec.edu/jerzdg/orr/articles/research/framedURLs.htm • Always keep printouts. • Real researchers want their work to be easily cited. If you can’t find the URL, find a better source. • As a last resort, attach the printout and cite it. Why Bother to Cite? • It’s arcane, meaningless busywork designed to keep me from getting the “A” my tuition paid for. • To prove that I found the magic number of sources the assignment called for. • To prove that I haven’t plagiarized. • So my instructor can read my sources and check whether I applied them correctly. • To model the methods of academic inquiry. Academic Inquiry (for newbies) • Seeking “Truth” by comparing the merits of differing professional opinions • Building upon existing, trusted scholarship • Not trying to “win” a battle or make friends. – “I am right.” Or, “My wonderful professor is right.” – Anyone who thinks otherwise is stupid, superstitious, racist, sexist, a terrorist, unfeeling, etc. • Complex, rather than simplistic theses. • “Slavery was bad.” vs. “Alex Haley’s plagiarism and historical inaccuracies in Roots damaged the integrity of the civil rights movement.” Credible Sources • Author & Date of Publication? – Hacking the URL – www.uwec.edu/jerzdg/ORR/handouts/TW/web/url-hacking.htm • Context – www.despair.com/demotivators/frownonthis.html – http://www.theonion.com/onion3211/acludefends.html – www.bigredhair.com/boilerplate/ • Design Design and Credibility • Professional Design • Little or No Design • Flashy, “Cool” Design • Amateur Design – Background sounds & images – Garish colors & multicolored text – Poor or nonexistent navigation – Large text Credibility and Human Nature • Paradox of the Active User – The belief that you will save time by ignoring the instructions. – Asking for directions vs. driving when lost • Foraging Behavior – Survival instinct: conserve resources – Electrons: path of least resistance Research & the Napster Generation • Researchers rarely give their best stuff away for free on the Internet. – Researchers save some of their best stuff for books. – Books and printed articles are, in most fields, more valuable to the individual researcher’s career. • The Napster generation wants it for free. • The Napster generation wants it for free, NOW. • Too bad librarians don’t work at 4am. Is Microsoft a Monopoly? • The Department of Justice vs. Microsoft • The Department of Justice vs. a software monopoly • The Department of Justice vs. the freedom to innovate Search for “monopoly” on www.microsoft.com Online Journalism • Foraging behavior brings students to online journalism websites. • News & magazine articles are easier to read than academic papers. • But the news reports are not experts in the subject matter (child psychology, international politics, etc.). • It’s worse than that! • (Opportunity for a critical thinking exercise.) Jupiter Communications • (Now Jupiter Media Metrix) • Sells research. Custom research – designed to make the customer look good. – I start my own church tonight. – I sign up my wife and son tomorrow. – My membership shot up to 300%! • Jupiter’s fun with statistics: www.uwec.edu/jerzdg/orr/articles/TW/jup-crit.htm Surge in Salon Subscribers • http://news.com.com/2110-1023-820941.html • www.salon.com/press/releases/2002/01/23/subscri bers/ • http://www.salon.com/press/fact/index.html • www.dotcomscoop.com/article.php?sid=156&mo de=thread&order=0 Credible Online Sources • Be critical of info on a .com website. • Be critical of info on a .edu website – Does the URL include a course number? – Rules for giving conference talks & posting classroom lecture notes aren’t very stringent; can be inaccurate. • Be critical of info on a .org website. – Activist organizations try to get you to think of an issue in terms that exclude alternative viewpoints: • Is smoking a matter of public health, or personal freedom? • Is a tax cut a “welcome return to sensible government” or a “compassionless strike against the disadvantaged masses”? – NOW, NRA, PETA, and the ACLU are not ethically bound to present any point of view but their own. • Be critical of all information – online or not. The Horror! The Horror! • Students may be thinking… • “How am I supposed to know whether every article I read online is biased? I’m not an expert! I have no idea how to confirm every fact!” • But the answer is… – Find articles in peer-reviewed journals! – You know that two or three experts have approved of the article before publishing it!
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